Tag Archives: trace poetry

Day 8, NaPoWriMo 2017

Emily Dickinson is a real dickens to trace! Her language is so precise and her images so concrete, it is difficult to create something more than a pale imitation or weak echo. I’ve been wrestling with a couple Dickinson poems for about a week, and this is the first thing that has even faintly resembled something I could call my own.

Moon! You were finding me
the whole night by
gaps in the blinds too tiny
to be seen by day

Beam after beam of silver light
swept the pillow, seemed to hit
my eyes, no matter that
they were tightly shut

This morning I hold you
to blame for my slow
rising, even though
I stayed out past two

(loosely patterned after poem no. 1035 “Bee! I’m expecting you!” by Emily Dickinson – http://hellopoetry.com/poem/2416/bee-im-expecting-you/)

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Day 4, NaPoWriMo 2017

napo2017button1If you haven’t already, check out Poetry Daily (http://poems.com/). They also have a wonderful app for your phone or tablet, so you can carry poetry with you everywhere.

That Way of Listening

She could hear it strong,
flying over the April
melt mud still continuing
now to well up. Odors
of stone bathed the stream
bank. And really, it resembled
the fish in fairy tales
when you’re out of
bait: rising to the surface,
feeding close enough to touch.
Things were no different where
she took the island ferry.
Soft on the air drifted
this low song, and a sharp
burning of whiskey,
straight whiskey beneath
the unwitting tongue there,
exactly in the place
she would find it. She always
could taste it, usually
without meaning to. By day
unexpected clouds rolled in,
sending wide, grey shadows
spilling over the hills.
She danced, danced, until
she could feel who
the creek was calling as
it came rushing over
the ice-shattered boulders,
flinging so high into
the air that bright spray
of fresh and boundless energy.

(trace poem of “That Time of Year,” by Leon Stokesbury, http://poems.com/poem.php?date=17039)

 

Day 2 poem, NaPoWriMo 2017

napo2017button1When I sat down to work, a pair of grackles in the garden gathering dried grasses for their nest, and Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” came to mind.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Poem

I

Among thousands of angry words,
The only thing shouting
Was the poem.

II

I spoke in two voices,
like a piece of paper
On which there are two poems.

III

The poem danced on the reader’s tongue.
It was the eye of the hurricane.

IV

The body and the mind
Are one.
The body and the mind and a poem
Are one.

V

I do not choose which to praise,
The eloquence of form
Or the eloquence of function,
The reading of the poem
Or the silence after.

VI

Blackbirds filled the fall afternoon
With chaotic sound.
The echo of the poem
Matched it, tone for tone.
The pattern
Etched on the echo
An inarticulate meaning.

VII

O vain bodies of Columbia,
Why do you crave yellow words?
Do you not hear how the poem
Unfolds in the questions
Of the minds around you?

VIII

I dream bright eyes
And dark, feathered wings;
But I dream, too,
That the poem is born
In what I dream.

IX

When the poem came to an end,
It crossed the threshold
Of one in many lifetimes.

X

At the sound of poetry
Rising in a purple chorus,
Even the impresarios of opposition
Would sigh contentedly.

XI

She flew over the country
On a carpet of sound.
Once, delight pierced her,
In that she understood
The echo of her conveyance
As poetry.

XII

The mountains are shouting.
The poem must be rising.

XIII

It was spring all winter.
It was angry
And it was going to be angry.
The poem sprang
From the bone marrow.

(trace poem of “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45236 )

NaPoWriMo 2017

It’s here! After a long winter of stress, illness, and recovery, I’m delighted to turn again to poetry.

This is trace poem of Walt Whitman’s “The Runner,” which appeared in his much-edited collection, Leaves of Grass.

The Runner

Over a hard track flies the deep-bred horse,
She is spare and wiry with spidery legs,
She is finely contoured, she yearns homeward as she gallops,
With outstretched neck and ears slightly flattened.

(You can view the source poem at http://www.bartleby.com/142/76.html.)

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Poetry exercise: Tracing

The assignment last week in poetry class was to trace a poem someone else had written: swap the author’s words with my own, adhering as closely as possible to the original elements (parts of speech and inflection, sentence/line/stanza structure, punctuation, etc.) I immediately dubbed this exercise MadLib poetry, and I had enormous fun with it. I slavishly traced Elizabeth Bishop’s “Little Exercise” (click here for her poem) with the following result.

Trace imagery

Think of the dog pacing the yard methodically
like a home inspector checking for radon,
feel it calculating.

Think how they must sound now, the piano keys
waiting there untouched by fingers
in the sun-soaked parlor,

where every Sunday a woman brings fresh flowers,
arranges them, clucks under her breath
when the petals drop.

Think of the hallway and the cabbage roses
arrayed on the wallpaper, slowly fading
into the neutral background.

It is empty there. The hallway
and its long Oriental rug with the fringe on each end
are waiting to be walked, the doors to be opened.

Now the dog comes in after a final sweep
of the irregular, fenced perimeter,
each section marked with urine.

Think of nobody coming to the house
abandoned at the end of the sidewalk or the lane;
think of no one as invited, widely welcomed.